Nigeria does not have the technology to develop a COVID-19 vaccine now because the process of producing a vaccine requires massive investment, the Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, said on Wednesday
He, however, said the agency was working with the Cuban Embassy, World Health Organisation, and other relevant institutions for the basic production of vaccines.
Mustapha stated these in an interview with journalists in Abuja on the achievements recorded by the agency in the year 2021.
He said, “Research requires a thorough investigation, most especially when it has to do with human life. Not all countries have developed a vaccine but only a few of them, and you cannot say these countries are not doing their best to produce a vaccine. In Nigeria, we don’t have vaccine technology.
“In the meantime, what we are even talking about is the vaccine technology not even production of vaccine. We need resources, human capital, training and retaining.”
He said the process of producing a vaccine has to go through certain rigours, clinical investigations and certification by agencies in the country, including the WHO.
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“It is something we have to be very much careful and certain about. We also have to show due process for the scientific community to accept.
“It is not something we can jump and conclude. We are working hard and have done a significant part of it and hopefully, we will come out with a vaccine no African country has produced. It is not something easy. We have the expertise and resource but we need injection of funds,” he stated.
The NABDA DG observed that science, technology and innovation would help Nigeria overcome the challenges of primitive agriculture and the growing poverty level in the country.
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While assuring farmers of getting genetically modified maize in the next 18 months, Mustapha said the genes of the insert have been confirmed safe by the National Biosafety Management Agency.
He maintained that with the commercialisation of two Genetically Modified Crops, Bt Cotton and Bt Cowpea, poor borer resistant cowpea, Nigeria is on the path of attaining food and nutrition security.
This, according to him, would also create millions of jobs, adding that about eight million Nigerian farmers and their families would benefit directly from cultivating the newly launched pod borer resistant cowpea variety.
He said the agency had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rural Electrification Agency to use BEGS Digester, an innovative made-in-Nigeria technology, in order to ensure equitable access to sustainable electricity supply to rural communities.
“We are about to produce Bt soybean which is presently in the research and development pipeline. This soybean will be herbicide-tolerant and beneficial to the country,” he maintained.
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Mustapha, however, lamented that despite the agency’s groundbreaking research activities, luddites had deployed divergent adversarial antics to stifle the culture of innovation.
He stressed that the media had a key role to play in promoting awareness and the adoption of agriculture biotechnologies.